Who is expected to win control of the Senate according to the latest polls?

Republicans are projected to keep control of the Senate and have a 10 per cent chance of gaining five more seats

Sarah Harvard
New York
Friday 02 November 2018 20:20 GMT
US Midterms 2018: The five big questions

Four days away from crucial midterm elections, one of the major questions is whether the Republicans will keep control of the Senate or whether the Democrats will gain enough seats to take over.

Republicans currently hold the majority of seats in both chambers of Congress. Democrats, however, hoping that could all change come on election day. The most recent polling suggests that Democrats have a grand opportunity to take back the House of Representatives.

But the fight to take back the Senate looks bleak for the Democrats. Republicans will not only cling on to control over the chamber, but they will also gain seats.

There are about 13 highly competitive Senate races, according to Cook Political Report. Out of those 13 races, eight states have a Democrat incumbent. However, six of those states voted for Donald Trump in the 2016 presidential elections. Republicans, on the other hand, have incumbents in five states. Four of those states voted for Mr Trump in 2016.

To put it simply, Democrats have more seats up for re-election than the Republicans, and the majority of these seats are in states that overwhelmingly in favour of Mr Trump in 2016. In fact, Trump won 10 out of 13 states with close Senate races.

Statistical analysis website FiveThirtyEight predicts that Republicans have a 6 in 7 chance of keeping control of the Senate. There is 10 per cent chance they will win five more seats. Democrats face the same probability for netting two seats.

The hotly-contested Senate races right now are in Texas, Tennessee, North Dakota and Florida. In Texas, there is a three-point gap between Democrat Congressman Beto O’Rourke and Republican incumbent Ted Cruz. Mr O’Rourke continues to inch closer with 47 per cent of likely voters and Mr Cruz with 50 per cent.

Florida sees an even tighter race with Democrat incumbent Bill Nelson holding a two point lead (49 per cent) over his Republican challenger Rick Scott, the Sunshine State’s governor. As of right now, Tennessee leans Republican with incumbent Marsha Blackburn edging out former Democratic Governor Phil Bredesen with a 4-point lead. The most recent poll show 49 per cent of voters backing Mr Blackburn and 45 per cent for Mr Breesend, which is a complete turnaround from a mid-September CNN poll when Mr Bredsend had a five-point lead.

It is no doubt that this is a high stake midterm election cycle. If Republicans do end up gaining more control over the Senate, there is one possible bright side: Democrats have a bit of advantage in 2020.

Republicans will be defending significantly more seats than Democrats with 22 seats up for re-election. Thus, providing Democrats will more chances to gain seats and play an offensive strategy to regain control over the Senate.

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FiveThirtyEight predicts the main targets for Democrats in 2020 will be Colorado Senator Cory Gardner and Maine Senator Susan Collins since they are two Republicans who are up for re-election in states that voted in favour of Democrat Hillary Clinton. Collins will be exposed to several vulnerabilities since her vote for Brett Kavanaugh, who was publicly accused of sexual assault misconduct, effectively confirmed him as a Supreme Court Justice. The vote prompted activists to form a crowdfunding campaign for her 2020 Democrat opponent and raised $3 million. Although no one has yet to file to run against Collins in 2020, former UN Ambassador Susan Rice expressed interest.

There are also four more GOP Senators up for re-election in states that lean Republicans by less than 20 points that could potentially give Democrats an opportunity to win seats. FiveThirtyEight, however, notes that there will still be challenges for Democrats: “Of course, it’s not a given that Democrats will add any seats at all to their total in 2020: Sen. Doug Jones faces an uphill fight in deep-red Alabama. What’s more, six more Democratic seats are also plausibly vulnerable.”

The 2018 midterm elections, as well as the one in 2020, will have long-term crucial ramifications for Americans and the country. The future of the Supreme Court, immigration reform, reproductive rights and health care all depends who wins the Senate — and by how much.

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